Tips on how to hunt for autographs
Ask the player to sign a body part
This is the best way to stand out from the crowd. Every other autograph-hunter has a notebook, a tournament programme or a giant tennis ball that they are pushing towards the player to be signed. There is a limited number of autographs that each player can sign (without risking a repetitive strain injury to their wrist), so ask the player to scribble on your forehead, your arm, or another part of your body. And promise that you won’t wash for a week. “Someone in Australia asked me to sign their forehead,” Andy Murray has said, so these unusual requests clearly stick in their memory. Kudos if you can get all of the Big Four of men’s tennis to scrawl on your body at the same tournament.
Don’t be a stalker
Don’t approach a player when he or she is in their hotel, and be respectful if they are having a private lunch or dinner with their coach, friends or family.
Know your way around the practice courts and outside courts
Unless you have a seat by the players’ entrance to the stadium, it is unlikely that you will get the autograph you want when your target appears on the main stage. Some tournaments organise official signing sessions; at Wimbledon, for example, “an autograph booth for player interview and signing sessions during the first week of the Championships will be located at the front of the Aorangi Pavilion”. However, those sessions often don’t involve the A-list stars of the game, and if you want them to sign, you will have to track them down after a practice session or after they have won a match on a rare occasion that they play on an outside courts.
Be persistent (and prepare to be disappointed)
On his first visit to the All England Club, Murray was more interested in obtaining Andre Agassi’s autograph than in watching any of the live tennis. Despite camping out at the practice courts, Murray went home with an empty autograph book.
Don’t forget a pen
You will be surprised at how many people find them standing in front of a tennis player, asking for an autograph, only to realise that they don’t have a pen with them.